WINDHOEK – The National Assembly results announced this week indicate that more young people, some of them charismatic, are heading to parliament.
Analysts say this represents a good chance that youth issues such as unemployment, exclusion from mainstream economic activities and a distant access to assets such as land, could finally be addressed with the help of young politicians in government.
But not so fast, warned analysts, who said it would require time for young MPs to break the current way of doing things, such as the pace at which young Namibians are accessing residential land or buying urban houses.
Youth unemployment in Namibia has increasingly come under the spotlight as an urgent socio-economic challenge, while some even argue it to be a ‘ticking political time bomb’.
The legacy of apartheid is not yet adequately addressed, and it is mostly the youth that feel the brunt of the historical past.
The country’s young masses will now have their eyes firmly fixed on Swapo Young Turks such as Sacky Shanghala,
Veikko Nekundi and Natangwe Iithete – all active members of the Swapo Party Youth League (SPYL) – to deliver them from their miseries.
State House aide Christine //Hoebes, Lucia Iipumbu and DTA president McHenry Venaani are also among the younger faces headed for the National Assembly next year.
“I am happy that more young people are going to parliament, but I’ll be happier if I see them serving society more than they are serving themselves,” said SPYL secretary, Dr Elijah Ngurare, yesterday.
“With the benefit of hindsight, I won’t be excited just yet,” the league leader told New Era.
Ngurare shared the views that once they have joined parliament or government ministries, many young politicians become “swallowed up in the system” and become part of a process that produces sluggish response to young people’s needs and asprations.
“As the youth league, we have since 2007 been working hard to ensure the infusion of young people in positions of leadership at local and regional authorities and so on,” Ngurare said.
“Gladly, our call was responded to and we have since seen young people becoming mayors, councillors and governors.
“Of course five years [the length of a political term] is probably not long enough for one to make a tangible difference, but we have seen young people who, once elected, become obsessed with riches such that they are always caught up in tender controversies.”
Ngurare expressed hope that as many young MPs as possible must be appointed to positions of responsibility, instead of remaining mere backbenchers in parliament.
“Young MPs will make a better difference if they are given positions of responsibility because that will serve as a process of learning and consolidation.
“We cannot discriminate against young people because of their age. Votes, whether cast by an 18-year-old or 66-year-old, carry the same value so why discriminate against people because of their age?
“The president-elect [Hage Geingob] has shown over the years that he has trust in young people so the future looks promising,” Ngurare said.
Currently, Namibia has 610 437 young people aged between 15 and 29 years of age, according to the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA). About 43 percent of those active are unemployed, the agency said.
By Toivo Ndjebela New Era